Last updated: August 20. 2014 2:57PM - 314 Views

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Billionaire to pay $1.5M fine for Kentucky mines


LOUISVILLE (AP) — West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice has reached a $1.5 million settlement with Kentucky officials over dozens of reclamation violations at several of his coal mines in eastern Kentucky.


The agreement between Justice and the state’s Department for Natural Resources is a reduction from the $4.5 million in outstanding penalties he owed for the violations. Kentucky officials said the violations stemmed from the lack of post-mining restoration work required by law at Justice mines in eight counties.


Justice, who is worth about $1.6 billion according to Forbes.com, has idled several mines in eastern Kentucky and said his Appalachian mines are struggling to stay open due to poor market conditions.


The agreement also requires Justice to post millions in bond and complete the reclamation work by September 2015.


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Water intake resumes after Ohio River oil spill


CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio and Kentucky water districts have resumed pumping water from the Ohio River after a fuel oil spill led them to stop intake of river water.


The Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the Northern Kentucky Water District stopped pumping drinking water from the river after a fuel oil spill at a Duke Energy power plant about 20 miles southeast of Cincinnati on Monday night. The U.S. EPA is coordinating continuing containment and cleanup of the spill that authorities have estimated could be up to 5,000 gallons.


The water districts reopened their intakes Tuesday night after finding no contamination in river samples.


A 15-mile river section, which had closed after the spill, also reopened Tuesday with some restrictions. Vessels traveling through must get Coast Guard clearance and maintain a safe speed.


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Second arrest made in fatal fire


INEZ (AP) — Authorities have made a second arrest in the deaths of three people whose bodies were found in a home that burned in eastern Kentucky.


Kentucky State Police say that 26-year-old Amanda Bowen, of Inez, was arrested and charged with three counts of murder and one count of first-degree robbery.


Authorities were alerted of the house fire in Inez early last Saturday, and the three bodies were found inside the home.


Officials haven’t released the victims’ names. Autopsies are being conducted by the state medical examiner’s office.


Police arrested 41-year-old Jack D. Smith, also of Inez, on Saturday and charged him with three counts of murder, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of tampering with physical evidence.


It wasn’t immediately clear if either Bowen or Smith has an attorney.


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Proposed deal for regional jail falls apart


CATLETTSBURG (AP) — A proposal for a regional jail in northeast Kentucky aimed at saving taxpayers money has fallen apart.


Carter County and Boyd County fiscal courts voted unanimously to dissolve the interlocal agreement Tuesday.


The jail was proposed in 2012 with the goal of expanding and retaining federal prisoners housed in the counties’ facilities and saving taxpayer money.


Boyd County Judge-Executive William “Bud”?Stevens told The Independent (http://bit.ly/1oZfDk3 ) he supported the jail, but Carter County Judge-Executive Charles Wallace sent a letter on Aug. 6, saying the Carter County Fiscal Court is backing out of the agreement.


During the Boyd fiscal court meeting Tuesday, Stevens said, “If one fiscal court drops out, the other has no choice.”


The Carter fiscal court also unanimously passed the first readings of two ordinances Tuesday to revoke its involvement in the regional jail.


The proposed jail faced opposition from the start, with some in Carter County saying it wasn’t a good use of taxpayer funds.


Wallace said the jail was just a “plan to help the county jail get back on its feet.” The Carter County fiscal court lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because it had not been contracted with the federal marshal service since 2007, Wallace said.


“This was just a plan to turn the jail around. It worked,”?he said. “The jail is more profitable now.”


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Education Department seeks student advisers


FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Education is looking for six students to serve on an advisory council to provide feedback to Education Commissioner Terry Holliday this school year.


The Next-Generation Student Council is open to public school students in grades 10 to 12. The students will meet with Holliday and Education Department staff four times during the year to discuss the impact of state-level decisions on students statewide.


Applications must be received or postmarked by 4:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 29. More information is available at http://bit.ly/KDENGSC .


A department committee will score answers contained in the applications, and appointments will be decided by the applicants’ success in communicating ideas and goals.


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Man sentenced to life without parole


SCOTTSVILLE (AP) — A southern Kentucky man who pleaded guilty to murder, fetal homicide and other charges involving the stabbing death of a pregnant woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.


The Daily News reports Allen Circuit Judge Janet Crocker handed down the sentence on Tuesday to 36-year-old Charles Copass of Scottsville.


He is charged with killing 22-year-old Chelsey Mahaney, of Scottsville, in June 2012. Mahaney was about four months pregnant at the time. He also pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, theft and tampering with physical evidence.


Copass entered an unconditional plea in February in Allen County Circuit Court, which meant he was still eligible for the death penalty.


The sentence imposed was in accordance with the wishes of Mahaney’s family.


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